File this one under “we learn something new every day.”
In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.
Antoine Leveau, a postdoctoral fellow at the university, found this out when he attempted to mount a mouse’s brain membranes on a single slide so they could be examined as a whole. Once he was able to examine them this way, he saw vessel-like patterns in the cells’ distribution. So he tested for lymphatic vessels (vessels of the immune system)… and guess what? That’s just what they found.
How scientists could have missed these vessels for so long is beyond me (though, at the same time, I’m certainly excited that this fellow was able to do it). It just goes to show that there’s still more to discover about the human body—and so we shouldn’t stop looking!
It also shows that there may indeed be plenty of “hidden” evidence to support how things work in the body that we can’t quite explain yet. Like the long-held belief in a gut-brain connection without a clear understanding of exactly what it is or how it works. This “connection” has been embraced by forward-thinking doctors like myself for decades, despite the lack of “evidence.” So while we treated the gut and got results…the mainstream “establishment” refused to accept it or explore it for lack of “evidence.”
This is where modern American medicine has gone so wrong. Relying solely on evidence-based medicine, defined by drug companies, is like healing with blinders on. But I digress…
As I said, this stunning new finding provides hard evidence of a direct link between the gut and the immune system. The gut is a critical part of the body’s immune system, collecting and transporting lymph to other areas in the body…including the brain, which, we now know, has direct connections to the lymphatic network throughout the body. This gives the conventional medical world a vast avenue to discover new treatments for difficult medical conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
Of course, while this discovery is truly groundbreaking, it’s not the first evidence of how the gut and brain are associated. Just a few weeks ago, I talked about research that concluded that modulating the bacteria in your gut my hold the key to neuropsychological disorders. And over a year ago, I wrote about a link between food-triggered “brain fog” and gut dysfunction (as well as a link between gut dysfunction and depression). And over two years ago, I penned an RHC on how probiotics may alter brain activity in healthy people. That’s just a taste of how I’ve devoured the topic. And it’s why I’ve talked so much about the importance of taking a quality, multi-strain probiotic every day, because healthy gut bacteria is critical to good health (not just of the brain, but of the whole body).
Perhaps if the conventional medical world didn’t have their heads in the sand about our ideas, we could have found more ways to treat these difficult neuro-immune diseases decades ago. Let’s face it, I’ve known about the gut-brain interaction for over 20 years–could you imagine what could have been accomplished if the actual researchers thought it existed before this week?
The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it. For example, take Alzheimer’s disease where there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain. It’s entirely possible that their lymphatic vessels aren’t doing their job to efficiently remove this excess protein.
The researchers also noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore. And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.
Just imagine if more researchers spent more time looking into more of the health connections that “just doesn’t exist”… pull up a chair. I have a laundry list.